The Great Wall of China is a long man-made wall built using tamped earth, brick, stone, wood, and other materials. It was built to keep out invaders and check military intrusions. It now acts as a tribute to the Chinese who were responsible for building this 3,948 mile-long wall. The wall runs from Shanhaiguan in Hebei province (in the east) to Jiayuguan in Gansu province (in the west). It comprises of walls, armories, barracks, stables, shelters on the wall, watch towers, horse tracks, forts and passes.
To ensure proper communication among the army units, several signal towers were constructed on the hilltops or other higher positions along the wall. The wooden gates were used as a trap against those who stealthily tried to pass.
People from different occupations built the Great Wall during three dynasties namely, Qin, Han and Ming. The most well-preserved version of the site dates back to the Ming dynasty.
UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site in 1987, and people from all over the world visit the region to get to walk on the Great Wall of China. The site has been protected so that future generations are able to enjoy it with the same amazement as we do now. Although the improvements and restoration of the Great Wall has made visiting more convenient, it is still dangerous to hike in the region due to the lack of safety facilities.
There are many watchtowers along the Great Wall, which are spaced a kilometer or several kilometers apart. The watchtowers are two stories tall. There are more than 10,000 watchtowers and beacon towers along the site.
The present condition of the wall demands serious consideration due to the following reasons:
- The graffiti on the wall marring the beauty of the wall.
- Some of the villagers are using stones from the wall for building their homes.
- Erosion from sandstorms is paving the way for disappearance of the wall in Gansu.
- The Great Wall of China belongs not only to China, but also to the world as a great cultural heritage.
- Signal fire was used to send messages from one tower to another. A single release of smoke signified 100 enemies, while two releases meant 500 enemies.
- More than one million people died while building the Great Wall and it is often referred to as being “the longest cemetery on Earth”.
- Nearly 42 million foreign tourists visited the Great Wall of China in 2004.
The Great Wall extends from Gansu province to Hebei province in China. There are a number of options for reaching the Great Wall of China from Beijing Airport to Great Wall of China:
- The most convenient way would be hiring a cab.
- Beijing has a fine network of bus transportation. Thus you may choose to travel in a bus.
- Another option is the Airport Express Train that runs to Dongzhimen. From here you may switch to Subway Line 2, then get off at Jishuitan Station, walk to Deshengmen to take Bus No. 919 to Badaling Great Wall.
Scenery of the Great Wall varies with season. The wall is surrounded by vegetation in the spring when trees turn green and everything looks fresh. This is also a good time to avoid large crowds and tourists that generally tend to visit in the summer and autumn. The best time to get the complete view of the wall would be winter when the wall and mountains are covered with snow.
- 6:30 am to 7:00 pm in the summer
- 7:00 am to 6 pm in the winter
The admission fee costs CNY 45 or CNY 40 depending on what time of the year it is. There are also separate charges for cable cars and pulleys.
Nearby Attractions : Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace
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